This Deeply Held Commitment: A Meditation On The Death Of Robert Parry

By Caitlin Johnstone

The legendary journalistic titan Robert Parry has died, and I still haven’t quite figured out how to live with that.

I did not know Parry and never had any kind of interaction with him, but I can’t stop crying. This is an immense loss and it feels deeply personal, just as one of the countless individuals his work has profoundly impacted. I’ve often recommended Parry’s outlet Consortiumnews as the overall best source of anti-war, anti-establishment information in the English-speaking world, and I cite its content constantly in my own work (including twice in my last article).

This just sucks, and I’m a mess, and this might just be me getting sloppy and emotional for a few paragraphs, but this is all I can really be right now.

In a beautiful tribute to his father, Nat Parry describes a man who was driven not by self-interest, nor even ultimately by any ideology or conceptual values system, but by a deeply held commitment to humanity born out of concern for the future of our species. Parry’s journalistic integrity and ferocious dedication to the truth at all costs appear to have been a byproduct of that fundamental desire for humanity to survive and thrive, and an inability to be comfortable with our horrifying flirtation with extinction.

“But besides this deeply held commitment to independent journalism, it should also be recalled that, ultimately, Bob was motivated by a concern over the future of life on Earth,” writes the younger Parry. “As someone who grew up at the height of the Cold War, he understood the dangers of allowing tensions and hysteria to spiral out of control, especially in a world such as ours with enough nuclear weapons to wipe out all life on the planet many times over.”

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I would suggest that it is this underlying devotion to the plight of mankind which allowed Robert Parry to become Robert Parry. It wasn’t his connections, his political opinions, his ideas, or even his raw talent; it was the fact that he cared so much. The fact that he couldn’t dissociate himself from the horrors of this world, the evil things humans are doing to one another and the omnicidal trajectory we appear to be headed along. He saw it all, he felt it all, and he let it move him.

In the last article he wrote for Consortiumnews titled “An Apology and Explanation”, Parry began with the words, “I would like to extend my personal apology for our spotty production in recent days.” His explanation? He’d had a stroke on Christmas Eve. No big deal, just an Oh, hey, terribly sorry I haven’t been cranking out awesome articles at the pace to which you are accustomed, but I recently had a stroke.

Who does that?

In his article, not knowing at the time that end-stage pancreatic cancer was in the process of killing his otherwise healthy body, Parry speculated that the stroke could have been caused by the stress of the toxic environment that truth-telling journalists necessarily find themselves in today. He told of how his refusal to accept establishment narratives as fact without having seen the proof required by journalistic standards caused friends to turn on him and many to reject him. Unlike the others, Parry was unable to compartmentalize away the fact that America is being paced into a world-threatening new Cold War without having seen a single shred of proof from the same establishment agencies which lied us all into the Iraq invasion. While establishment loyalists succeeded in dissociating from the glaring plot holes in order to advance their anti-Trump agendas, Robert Parry couldn’t pretend the manipulations and plot holes weren’t there.

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If our species is to survive, it will be because of people like this. The only reason we are in the mess we now find ourselves is because most people are able to dissociate from the terrible things that are happening in our world, and if humanity is going to make it past the hurdles it faces in the near future it will be because this stopped happening. We’re going to have to start feeling the fact that bombs are being dropped on people on the other side of the planet every single day because a few oligarchs want to keep potential geopolitical rivals destabilized. We’re going to have to start feeling the fact that the corporate media is being used to manipulate the west into consenting to systems which exploit ordinary people to bring ever more power to the already powerful. We’re going to have to start feeling the fact that an unelected plutocracy controls the most powerful government in the world which is naturally incentivized to maintain economic injustice in a system where money equals political power.

We’ll have to feel it all, and let it move us, like it moved Robert Parry. We’ve got to care.

There is a common delusion among elitists and intellectuals that the ability to emotionally detach and analyze things without letting the suffering of the world bring you to your knees is some sort of virtue. They’ll ridicule you for caring and mock your outrage. I say the hell with that; that apathy is precisely what is killing us, and your similarity to a sociopath is never something to brag about. Thick skin makes for lousy sex.

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The world doesn’t need more dissociated pseudo-intellectuals and overeducated, emotionally dead idealists. It needs more Robert Parrys.

Feel. Care. Let samsara lead us to nirvana.

Thanks Bob.